Movie stars

Short reviews of what’s in theaters

New releases

Edge of Tomorrow A pretty good summer-kablooie movie, and Tom Cruise is better than pretty good in it — deal with it, haters. Playing a chickenhearted soldier in the war against big alien bugs, he has the ability to die and get reborn over and over. It’s “Groundhog Day” meets “Independence Day.” With Emily Blunt in kick-ass mode. (113 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Fault in Our Stars Every generation has to have its Kleenex-wadding “Love Story,” and here’s the latest iteration, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as cancer-battling teens in love. Intelligent and earnest, it works well enough to keep a doubter from feeling mugged by sentiment. With Laura Dern; based on the bestseller by John Green. (125 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)


½ Ida A gorgeously shot (in black and white), richly allusive drama about a young nun (Agata Trzebuchowska) in Communist-era Poland, uncovering wartime family secrets and listening for God’s silence. Director Pawel Pawlikowski is consciously working in the tradition of Ingmar Bergman and Robert Bresson; he’s not there yet, but he’s getting close. In Polish, with subtitles. (80 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Night Moves Kelly Reichardt turns her challenging, unconventional vision on the suspense thriller in this tale of three young people who plan an act of eco-terrorism. More anticlimactic and oblique than suspenseful and thrilling, her film, despite its unevenness, probes the souls of the activists. (105 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ What Is Cinema? Chuck Workman’s documentary is a glorious cornucopia of clips, from the Lumière brothers to, yes, one of the “Twilight” movies. Unfortunately, the clips are interspersed with talking heads — most, but not all, film directors — who blather on with answers to the question posed by the title. (79 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

½ Words and Pictures Not really the Tracy/Hepburn-style romantic romp the ads make it out to be. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche play battling teachers at a prep school — he’s a poet, she’s a painter — and while the script delivers some fine smart banter for grown-ups, it goes overboard on the crises, subplots, and occasionally grueling melodrama. (111 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 An improvement over 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” meaning interestingly mediocre instead of actively bad. Andrew Garfield has finally found onscreen chemistry with costar/girlfriend Emma Stone, and their scenes together are affecting if nearly content-free. With a freaky blue Jamie Foxx as Electro and an underutilized Dane DeHaan as the Green Goblin. Some screenings in 3-D. (142 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)


Belle A beautifully filmed exercise in set design, this period picture about a little-known historical anecdote doesn’t survive its tasteful trappings. Dull dialogue doesn’t help a potentially illuminating story about a biracial heiress in 18th-century England whose lineage allows her the privilege of class but doesn’t spare her the indignities of racism. (105 min., PG) (Peter Keough)

Blended Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are back together, this time as melancholy single parents whose families bond on an African vacation. Barrymore plays harried for a chunk of the story, reminding us that she’s a mom in real life now, and that it’s been a while since “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates.” But the movie could use a lot more of her familiar infectiousness. It’s the glue that holds together Sandler’s earnest moments and his penchant for scattershot tomfoolery. (117 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier The makers of this latest “Avengers” chapter have added a new wrinkle, and it’s right there on the hero’s forehead. The Cap (Chris Evans) contends with super-sized drone warfare and doubts about his mission; the movie’s a hard-edged thrill ride that’s not for little kids. With Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, and — surprise — Robert Redford. (136 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Chef Writer-director-star Jon Favreau tries to get back to his small-scale roots as a star chef who hits the road in a food truck with his kid (Emjay Anthony). The movie’s comfort food, but because it’s made with fresh ingredients by people who care what they’re doing, it’s a genuine pleasure. With John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, and a raft of sharp cameos. (115 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Fading Gigolo Writer-director John Turturro plays a courtly schmo who turns to the sex trade when the economy bottoms out. What could be a dreary farce stays on the right side of ridiculous thanks to Turturro’s graceful performance, indulgent turns by the rest of the cast (including Woody Allen as an unlikely pimp), and the film’s understanding of loneliness, New York division. (90 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Godzilla Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as a military man trying to protect San Francisco — and his family — from Godzilla and another pair of behemoths. Bryan Cranston supplies the strongest drama as Taylor-Johnson’s father, a nuclear engineer scarred by tragedy. With Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, and David Strathairn. (123 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

½ Maleficent Angelina Jolie gives us a deeper, live-action look at Disney’s demon-horned “Sleeping Beauty” villainess. She’s joined in the effort by rookie director Robert Stromberg, the production designer on “Oz the Great and Powerful.” They’re determined to shed some light on this wicked fairy’s dark ways, but they ultimately lose their handle on delivering revisionism that fits. And while this is Jolie’s show, obviously — and she’s terrifically arch — the dearth of other compelling characters is surprising. (97 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Million Dollar Arm A down-on-his-luck sports agent (Jon Hamm) tries to turn two Indian athletes (Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal) into pro baseball players. Your kids will probably like it a lot — and that’s all that really matters — but formulaic writing and overlength make for an uninspired inspirational tale. In English and some Hindi, with subtitles. (124 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

½ A Million Ways to Die in the West A million ways to die — and about four jokes that work. Director, co-writer, and star Seth MacFarlane tries and fails to be the Bob Hope and/or Mel Brooks of his generation with a flabbily made western spoof that coasts on genre clichés and close-ups of sheep penises. With Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson. (116 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Neighbors A crassly funny, not entirely irrelevant comedy about new parents (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) waging war with the fraternity next door. A watershed, sort of, in which a generation of Judd Apatow bad boys trembles on the verge of adulthood, looks back, and sees the soulless face of Zac Efron gaining on them. (96 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Rio 2 The “Rio” animators ship their cartoon flock 2,000 miles away to the Amazon for this sequel, a back-to-nature story which, ironically, just doesn’t have the same organic quality as the first movie. It’s fun in stretches, but also busily forced. Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway), and baddie Nigel (Jemaine Clement) are joined by cast additions Andy Garcia, as Jewel’s father, and Bruno Mars, crooning away. (101 min., G) (Tom Russo)

X-Men: Days of Future Past Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is sent back to 1973 to stop a coming apocalypse. The seventh X-Men movie upholds the series’ acceptably high batting average, but if you don’t know or care who Beast or Blink or Storm are, feel free to skip it. With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Jennifer Lawrence, and a scene-stealing Evan Peters as Quicksilver. (131 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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