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Movie Stars

Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Sam Riley and Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent.”

Frank Connor/Disney Enterprises

Sam Riley and Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent.”

Previously released

½ 22 Jump Street A hugely enjoyable comic deconstruction of that most useless of Hollywood artifacts — the blockbuster sequel — that refuses to take itself seriously on any level. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are undercover cops in college, but the secret stars are directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“The LEGO Movie”), who fuse dopey and clever in often brilliant ways. (112 min., R) (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)

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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)

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 little cameos. (115 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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)


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 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 best seller by John Green. (125 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson is up to his old tricks but with a new confidence that feels like a gift. Set in the fictional country of Zubrowka between the wars, it’s the story of a world-class concierge named Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes, achingly fine), his adoring bellboy Zero (Tony Revolori), and the hive of intrigues and character actors that buzz around them. (99 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Great Flood Bill Morrison’s dreamlike documentary about the catastrophic 1927 Mississippi River flood is a bit too arty for its own good. At its best, the film is hypnotic — at its worst, tedious. What Morrison has made is a kind of duet, actually, between the often-remarkable archival footage he’s unearthed and the spiky, unhurried score composed and performed by the guitarist Bill Frisell. (78 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

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 How to Train Your Dragon 2 In the sequel to DreamWorks’ 2010 animated surprise, reluctant Viking chieftain-to-be Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his stouthearted father (Gerard Butler) have very different ideas about facing a dragon army being gathered by madman Drago (Djimon Hounsou). And look out for that masked, trailer-outed Dragon Rider – actually Hiccup’s long-lost mother (Cate Blanchett). More than ever, the magical 3-D visuals feel like a Blue Angels routine customized for the Tolkien crowd. (105 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

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)

½ The Immigrant Director James Gray has come close to creating a silent-era melodrama, and not even the spoken dialogue dispels the mood. Despite rough edges, the film manages to meld decades of melodrama into a work that is at once simple and complex, morally black-and-white and psychologically ambiguous. In English and Polish, with subtitles. (117 min., R) (Peter
Keough)

½ The Lunchbox A hot lunch is misdelivered from a neglected wife (Nimrat Kaur) to a lonely widower (Irrfan Khan); letters and something that might be love ensue. A humanist fable from India, the film is actually a romance in the old-school tradition, a “Brief Encounter” transposed to the rhythms and flavors of modern-day Mumbai. Charming and, in its quiet way, revolutionary. In English and in Hindi, with subtitles. (104 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

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 tremble on the verge of adulthood, look back, and see the soulless face of Zac Efron gaining on them. (96 min., R) (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 anti-climactic and oblique than suspenseful and thrilling, her film, despite its unevenness, probes the souls of the activists. (105 min., R) (Peter Keough)

Obvious Child A warm, sympathetic, very sloppy, and often very funny little movie about a young New Yorker (Jenny Slate) who deals with an unwanted pregnancy as women have for millennia — as a worse than usual day at the office. Director Gillian Robespierre doesn’t actually have an agenda. That’s her agenda. With Jake Lacy and Gaby Hoffmann. (83 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Rio 2 The “Rio” animators ship their cartoon flock two thousand 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)

½ The Sacrament Ti West eliminates the found-footage staples of shock and suspense in this story about a religious commune run by a megalomaniac leader much like Jim Jones, and in so doing may well have deconstructed the genre. Three journalists visit the commune and find more than they expected, unlike the audience. (95 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ The Signal William Eubank’s feature debut shows intelligence, imagination, and style as well as a debt to old TV shows like “The Twilight Zone” — to which it ultimately suffers by comparison. Three college kids track down a hacker and find instead a Hazmat-suited Laurence Fishburne and lots of loose ends and plot tangles. (97 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

½ Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon From co-director Mike Myers, an indulgent documentary portrait of a long-lived rock manager, Hollywood talent agent, and all-around character. The stories are pretty fantastic, and client-pals like Michael Douglas, Alice Cooper, and Steven Tyler testify, but there’s a sadness to this movie that remains just off camera. (85 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ We Are the Best! Three teenage girls start a punk band in early-’80s Sweden. From the talented Lukas Moodysson (“Together,” “Lilya 4-Ever”), it is a messy, loud, adorable empowerment tale that remembers what it feels like to feel everything for the first time. Starring Mira Birkhammar and Mira Grosin. In Swedish, with subtitles. (102 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

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)

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)

For movie coverage, go to www.bostonglobe.com/movies.
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